How Can LinkedIn Help Small Businesses?

LinkedIn is a social network that is geared toward linking together small businesses. This network – well over twelve million strong – provides an opportunity for folks to stay in daily and weekly touch with their current clients, as well as their potential clients (leads).

Here is a shortlist of the ways that you can use LinkedIn to improve your chances of small business success!

  • As noted, use LinkedIn to stay in touch with people who resonate with your business. These can be current clients, potential clients, or folks who are interested in your business or have similar or related companies.
  • Ask your peers about their vendors.
  • Trade services.
  • Use LinkedIn’s Groups directory to search for industry associations and networks. Find out which conventions your peers (and possibly your competition) is attending (or are likely to be planning to attend). Similarly, answer questions and show your expertise.
  • Use Group Answers (pull-down menu in Groups) to see what questions people are asking (and who those people might be!)
  • Fund Raising: Though you might not ask for help raising funds for your venture, just being connected to the right people may provoke them to assist you.
  • Combine your efforts with other social networking accounts such as Twitter – or even Facebook (You can sync your contacts between LinkedIn and Twitter.).
  • Provide links to your small business blogs to show your expertise in your area

Make sure you abide by the rules that LinkedIn sets for business and small businesses. You want to avoid any association with spamming. Like any other business-related activities, this can all take time. Yes, you have to check in daily and spend time reading other people's blogs and questions and answers. But using them also adds a certain mystique to your corporate image. Do you want to be seen as the conventional, stodgy homegrown business? Or do you want to be recognized as an entrepreneur? Finally: Keep community and business functions separate, or better yet, hire a firm to take on some of the most time consuming social media marketing tasks for you. Your time will be your own, and everything that needs attention will be handled immediately.

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